New NXT Show
We have a ton of news on the plans for the second NXT show, tentatively titled NXT EVOLVE. There have already been graphics and a title belt prepared with that branding, although it can change.
We're learned that Gabe Sapolsky and Jeremy Borash are both heavily involved in the production, which we're told is nothing like anything else WWE is doing. The tapings took place at the warehouse that WWE briefly used as a makeshift Performance Center during the pandemic.
There has already been some content filmed for the program. Several of the newer signings since Summer were involved. Josiah Williams was the host for the show, which saw more of a "fight" feel to it. There was no live commentary, so anything that would be added would be in post-production.
Planning for this has taken place as far back as two years ago with various iterations of the show pitched and thrown around. Different names had also been discussed for the title of the program itself, starting with "NXT Underground" a couple of years ago. The platform and solid plans for the show are not set in stone.
Sammy Guevara Rumor Killer
After word got out that Sammy Guevara wasn't coming into IMPACT imminently, it was reported that Black Taurus from AAA was slotted into many of the plans the company had for Sammy. What wasn't reported, but still made the rounds, was that Sammy was intended to join the Decay group, since that's what Black Taurus is doing. Both AEW and IMPACT sides of things have indicated that this isn't true whatsoever. One source in IMPACT stated that they weren't sure of the plans for Sammy outside of the idea that he'd wrestle Ace Austin (as mentioned by Voices of Wrestling) at some point, but another with knowledge of the situation vehemently denied any plans for Sammy Guevara to a be a part of Decay.
AEW has the new series of their action figures released, which feature some repeat names again. We inquired within several at AEW about the logistics of releasing more new names, and we were told that “virtually everyone” was scanned in at AEW All Out 2019 for their figure production. A similar approach was taken with AEW title belt name plates, with them being produced for everyone on the roster at the end of 2019. Those that we've spoken to said there are already plans in place for upcoming waves, and some of the more inquisitive wrestlers have learned when they'll be released.
Royal Rumble news
In past years, several Royal Rumble surprises were hidden on busses and kept out of the way depending on the situation. However, we've heard varying things about Royal Rumble surprises that were a part of this year's show. Several surprises were present at the women's rehearsals on Saturday afternoon, and widely known that they'd be participating. Others were present at the talent hotel hanging out with talent the night before the show. At least one more was just simply backstage on Sunday, and nobody really thought anything of it, because WWE has legends around with regularity. We were told this Royal Rumble was much more laid back than in recent years.
If you couldn't tell, Damian Priest made a positive impression in WWE the past three weeks. High level sources that Fightful spoke with said that Damian Priest was extremely well liked and turned heads both during his Royal Rumble appearance, as well as his WWE Raw debut. One WWE employee said that Priest was given a full plate across both nights and did everything they could have expected from him after being thrown into the deep end.
Grizzled Young Vets
GYV have impressed many within NXT, but that's nothing new. They made it to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic each of the past two years. In asking around, Fightful was told that originally, the Grizzled Young Vets were penciled in to win last year's tournament. The Broserweight combo of Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle took off, and plans changed accordingly.
Danhausen Video Games and Hollywood
Ahead of our talk with Danhausen, we had several inquiries about why he wasn't included in the RetroMania or Virtual Basement Wrestling Code video games. Danhausen noted to us that the deals didn't make financial sense to him for using his likeness, and if they did, he would be open to reconsidering joining the roster.
In addition, Danhausen told us that he'd love to do television, movies, or other Hollywood related presentations to shine more of a light on his personality, and wrestling in general.
Fightful spoke with Maki Itoh after her AEW appearance. She told us that Tokyo Joshi officials let her know she'd be a part of the tournament, and she immediately contacted her parents to tell them the news. She said that it happened so quickly that it didn't feel real, and that she's open to working with All Elite Wrestling in the future. Specifically, she told us she'd be interested in joining Dark Order....for a fee.
We spoke about the importance of social media to her growth, and she mentioned that her experience in LinQ helped prepare her for the performance aspect of pro wrestling.
Fightful spoke with Dakota Kai and learned a lot more about the process that went into her career. The idea was WWE's to put Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez together, but having worked on opposite sides of the ring eased her into the process and made her comfortable. She had some hesitation to go heel, because she's been a babyface almost all of her career and it's easy and natural for her, but said she got a lot of help from Sara Amato, Shawn Michaels and Road Dogg on it.
She also heavily credited Xavier Woods for pitching her and the rest of BREStart as a part of UpUpDownDown, saying he greatly helped them in that regard.
Keith Lee was not in attendance at WWE Elimination Chamber, as he was pulled from his planned United States Title match.
Speculation ran rampant last Wednesday night after NXT when Kyle O'Reilly was stretchered to the back after the attack by Adam Cole. It was a storyline all along but unfortunately one (dumb!) fan posted photos of it and started a rumor that it was a seizure. Considering O'Reilly's history with diabetes, this caused a lot of concern among even the NXT roster, who weren't sure if the situation was real or not. This isn't out of the ordinary, as most of the roster isn't clued in to all aspects of creative. WWE sources we spoke to adamantly stated this was not a "seizure storyline" and no mention of such was brought up when the angle was pitched or executed. When WWE realized how out of hand the incorrect rumors were, they sent word that it was just a storyline, and Kyle O'Reilly tweeted about it Thursday.